The annual Donut Derby, brainchild of Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley Wheelmen, is one such creative niche. The Donut Derby is a pseudo-race combining aspects of competitive eating and bike racing. The fast and the fat, aerobic and the absorbic, gut and gam--mastery of two fundamentally warring human characteristics.
In nature, you can be big, or you can be fast, but you can't be both. In the Donut Derby, you've gotta be both to win.
This is one sport where athletes/eaters are pushing the boundaries of what is humanly and humanely possible. The event's online record extends back to 2006. Each year, the winning time has far surpassed the previous year's time. Last year's time, in fact, nearly halved the time from 2006. Such gains haven't been seen since the introduction of EPO to the peleton in the early 1990s. More on that suspicious connection later.
Let's look at more history...the chart below shows the winning times of participants, starting in 2006 when the winning Donut Adjusted Time was 1:26:24. This means that the winning rider, Joe Hamilton, actually rode the 35 miles in 1:46:55, but because he ate 7 donuts, 21 minutes was subtracted from his time.
Joe ate a half dozen donuts and rode at a decent pace. My guess is, it was more of a ride than a race, at the time.
Notice how in the following years, the winning time has fallen precipitously, driven for the most part by increased consumption of donuts. In fact, since Joe's winning ride in 2006, even as Donut Adjusted Time has fallen precipitously, average speeds have declined. This points to the recent supremacy of the gluttons: increased donut consumption is driving down times. In 2008, Joe Skelly stomped the competition by eating 28 Krispy Kremes offsetting his mellow 15.2 average mph pace.
Since Joe's unmatched 28 donuts consumed in 2008, Frank Gonzalez has dominated the race by following Joe's donut-driven methodology. In 2010 Gonzalez achieved an astounding Donut Adjusted Time of 41:29. Joe consumed 27 donuts while average 17.3 mph for the 35 miles.
Frank's abrupt rise to fast/fat greatness is, frankly, suspicious. In 2008, the year of Joe's record 28 (i.e., two baker's dozens and a deuce), Frank finished with a modest time, having consumed a respectable dozen and a half donuts. Joe's consumption was respectable, but it was far from the 27 he was, only two years later, to inhale.
How did Gonzalez make such dramatic improvements in his donut consumption in a single year? Is gut doping out of the question?
Mr. Gonzalez, it turns out, is a member of a suspicious cycling syndicate known as Kapelmuur Independents. Through what might well pass for intrepid reportage Uncle Pappy's has unearthed what might well pass for startling information about Mr. Gonzalez.
Among Frank Gonzalez' support crew, and a fellow member of the Kappelmuur mafia is Bicycling magazine's Bill Strickland. Strickland has written several books about cycling, and has recently come under fire for suggesting that Lance Armstrong may have doped. No word yet if he feels similar suspicions about Mr. Gonzalez's gut doping present.
No one has responded to our inquiries to Mr. Gonzalez. The Kapelmuur consortium and others have remained absolutely silent about Mr. Gonzalez' enigmatic and, frankly, suspicious rise to dominance in the competitive eating/riding category.
Their silence may be partly as a response to lack of questions about Mr. Gonzalez. We have thus far been too afraid to ask: How does one go from 18 to 27 donuts in two years? How does one train for such an event? What kinds of pacing strategies has Mr. Gonzalez adapted? Has Mr. Gonzalez given himself diabetes? How exactly does one gut dope? Until such time as the syndicate spontaneously responds to our unasked questions, we will continue to wonder.
Our answer to the silence of the omerta is the answer of champions: to let our legs/mouths do the talking, although I don't mean the mouth will literally talk. I mean, of course, that it will be talking while shoveling donuts in it. I should also say that we will also answer the silence of the omerta by probably getting our asses kicked, which has also been the traditional response to dopers among the peleton.
As non-gut doping riders, how should we peak for such an event? How to pace ourselves? The chart below shows some possibilities:
While Mr. Gonzalez has achieved dominance as a result of his extraordinary gullet powers, there is room in the Derby for those more inclined toward fast than fat. Mr. Gonzalez's extraordinary time of 41:29 from last year didn't require much speed: he moseyed along at 17 mph. However, it required him to eat more than 25 donuts in under two hours.
So how can you beat the syndicate's man?
Assuming 30 donuts is not feasible, you achieve any of the following combos:
20mph, 22 donuts
21 mph, 20 donuts
22 mph, 19 donuts
24 mph, 17 donuts
25 mph, 15 donuts
26 mph, 13 donuts
The only problem with this formula is that Frank, probably with the aid of various gut doping concoctions procured by the nefarious Kapelmuur Independents, has improved every year, meaning that he is likely to far exceed his previous mark.
Tomorrow, more on the Derby and the rise of a challenger to Frank Gonzalez's heavy-load bearing throne.